I’m so happy to share the newest book by e-friend Damyanti Biswas coming 24 October 2023.
A ritual murder at a Mumbai temple exposes the city’s dark secrets and ravages the personal life of a detective in this sequel to The Blue Bar.
Amid incessant rains pounding down on Mumbai, Senior Inspector Arnav Singh Rajput is called to a shocking crime scene. A male body is found dismembered on the steps of a Kaali temple. Drawn into his flesh are symbols of a tantra cult. The desecration of a body at a Hindu place of worship puts the city on edge and divides Arnav’s priorities: stopping a fanatic from killing again and caring for his wife who’s struggling through a challenging pregnancy.
Then video footage of the murder is uploaded onto the account of a Bollywood social media influencer, triggering twists in the investigation Arnav didn’t see coming. Caste systems at war. A priest under suspicion. And an anonymous threat that puts his wife’s welfare at risk. When more bodies are found, the savagery of the city begins to surface—and Arnav fears that no one is safe from a bigger storm brewing.
Chapter one is completely in italics – as was all chapters from the antagonist’s POV – and it messed with my eyes as italics are wont to. Publishers please: think about those of us who are neurodivergent when you choose fonts, use of italics, etc. I was so busy fighting the italics, I missed out on the story. Besides, on eReaders, fonts and font sizes are changed to suit the reader – so adding italics to the mix (even for clarity of POV) just makes it more difficult to enjoy the story.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book, though.
From the atmospheric writing – taking one to Mumbai midst a monsoon – to the societal pressures women face – in religious, cultural and social situations – this book takes one on quite an exciting ride.
The world-building also nicely ties in with the murders, the reasons for them, and the motives of the one performing the murders.
As for Arnav and Tara: he learns so much from her, which informs his personal and professional life. I enjoyed reading about how they evolved as a couple from the previous book.
Tara is so strong: not letting the fact that she is bound to a wheelchair (possibly forever) get her down. Or the weird way others treat her because of it. I do think she’s a bit foolhardy at times, but looking at her past, one can understand this need she has for agency even when it gets her in trouble.
I liked all the intrigue around Arnav’s job, with him not knowing who he can trust and how he figured it out. Without giving spoilers, that’s as much as I can say.
A grand adventure in Mumbai where the lines between friends and foes are blurry at the best of times – a monsoon and technical difficulties just adds another layer of drama to this well-paced thriller.
Trigger warnings: blood and gore, dismemberment, classism, caste-ism, sexism, able-sim, references to rape.
*I received an ARC from the author and this is my honest opinion.
About the Author
Damyanti Biswas is the author of The Blue Bar, the first novel in the Blue Mumbai Thriller series, and You Beneath Your Skin, as well as numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been short-listed for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is coeditor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Damyanti is also a supporter of Project WHY, a program that provides quality education to underprivileged children in New Delhi. Apart from being a novelist, Damyanti is an avid reader of true crime, a blogger, and an animal lover. Her ambition has always been to live in a home with more books than any other item, and she continues to work toward that. For more information, visit www.damyantiwrites.com.
Here’s Damyanti’s Linktree so you can find her on all her social media accounts and more.
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